Pioneer of facial recognition discusses his fears of the technology

A lot of technology was probably developed with the best intentions, but at the same time have also shown that it can also be abused. Facial recognition is such a technology, and in a recent report by The New York Times, it seems that one of the pioneers of facial recognition technology has expressed his fear of the consequences of his work. Dr. Joseph J. Atick was one of the pioneers of modern face recognition technology, having helped to advance the technology back in the 1990s. He then took the technology and promoted it to governments where he suggested it could be used to identify criminals and prevent identity fraud.

Joseph J. Atick cased the floor of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington as if he owned the place. In a way, he did. He was one of the organizers of the event, a conference and trade show for the biometrics security industry. Perhaps more to the point, a number of the wares on display, like an airport face-scanning checkpoint, could trace their lineage to his work. A physicist, Dr. Atick is one of the pioneer entrepreneurs of modern face recognition. Having helped advance the fundamental face-matching technology in the 1990s, he went into business and promoted the systems to government agencies looking to identify criminals or prevent identity fraud. “We saved lives,” he said during the conference in mid-March. “We have solved crimes.” Thanks in part to his boosterism, the global business of biometrics — using people’s unique physiological characteristics, like their fingerprint ridges and facial features, to learn or confirm their identity — is booming. It generated an estimated $7.2 billion in 2012, according to reports by Frost & Sullivan.

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